Game Makeover: Nines – Introduction


I hope to spawn some dialogue about the redesigns described in this Game Makeover blog. However, in these first few entries much of the work described has already been completed and my actual efforts will probably be ahead of the postings for a few weeks. I don’t want this to discourage commentary, but I also don’t want my responses or lack of direction changes to be an indication that I am not listening to feedback. I figure that most of you reading (someone is reading, right?) are catching these much later than when they were posted anyway, so no harm done.  On to the makeover!


Redesign the traditional card game Nines (Nines on BGG) (also known as 9-Card Golf) to make a more “modern,” fun and interesting game while maintaining enough of the original game that it is still obviously “in there.” Let’s see how far I can get without making a different game.

Why Nines?

I started similar tweaking on a standard trick-taking game, but that is all the rage now; most recently by the grand master of card game makeovers, Mike Fitzgerald, in Diamonds (Stronghold Games, 2014). So I will leave my efforts for another day and makeover a game that is certainly less familiar, but hopefully just as ripe for the picking. Although Nines has an abysmal 3.25 average rating on BGG, there is some good in it. It is a typical traditional, family card game that appeals to those who would also like SkipBo (BGG average rating of 5.30). Please don’t let that stop you from reading on… I have played many games of Nines with family and friends and somewhere around the house there is always 3 decks shuffled together for this purpose.


First a couple concerns that I need to remind myself occasionally to keep this endeavor in check:

  • Right out of the chute I am concerned with being able to keep the game appropriate for the casual card players who usually play it…
  • …while extending to other gamers. This tightrope may be razor thin.
  • Since the game is so simple, I am immediately adding to it and adding… “mechanics soup, order up.”

At a Glance

In this first post let’s just take a glance at how Nines is played, what’s good about it and what needs work . I’ll post these on a separate page so I can easily refer to them later. One of the first challenges is to define what the game is today – variants abound – so I will simply start with how I have been taught to play. The “original” rules are in a separate post so they can be referenced easily.

Note: As the design evolves, there will be new rules introduced and existing ones changed. For expedience, I won’t post every new rule set, but will try to describe those changes. When I have reached a game and rule set that I think are final, I’ll post the new rules in the Games section.